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Bill would stop NH towns from banning short term rentals

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The debate in New Hampshire and across the country over whether cities and towns should allow AirBNB and other short term rental properties has been waging for years. This year, Sen. Jeb Bradley has proposed a bill that would require municipalities to allow short term rentals. While towns could mandate that vacation rental property owners register their houses as such, officials could not ban them entirely.  

AirBNB in New Hampshire 

Short term rentals have made headlines in recent years for stirring up controversy and even court action in New Hampshire. In September of last year, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that one couple violated Portsmouth’s zoning regulations by operating a vacation rental in a residential zone. Other New Hampshire towns, including Canterbury, have also struggled with how to deal with short term rentals. 

Regulating “disorderly houses” 

Along with the requirement that towns allow vacation rentals, Sen. Bradley’s bill spells out how towns can deal with “disorderly houses.” The bill, SB 458, says that if police are called to a property more than three times, a town may rescind the owner’s registration for up to three months. Owners could also face a fine of up to $1,000. 

Don’t restrict property owners 

Those in favor of SB 458 believe property owners should have the right to make their houses into short term rentals if they so choose without fearing that local government will interfere. New Hampshire knows how important tourism is to local economies. SB 458 would protect property owners against municipal red tape and encourage tourism dollars to flow to local communities. 

Do short term rentals do more harm than good? 

With the rise in popularity of AirBNB, municipalities have struggled to balance the desires of property owners with others in the community. Some fear that having too many of these properties in a neighborhood could have unintended consequences. Neighbors have no way of knowing who is renting out the property from one week to the next. Plus, vacationers are known for throwing parties in AirBNBs, which can disturb neighbors. Ultimately, a short term rental house is as much a business as a hotel or bed and breakfast, and towns should be allowed to zone such a house accordingly. 

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